Rocky Mountain National Park: Lumpy Ridge Loop

Go counterclockwise on this 10.2-mile loop touring the rocky cliffs and odd-shaped boulders of Lumpy Ridge to an alpine lake and several campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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Go counterclockwise on this 10.2-mile loop touring the rocky cliffs and odd-shaped boulders of Lumpy Ridge to an alpine lake and several campsites in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Lumpy Ridge rises above Estes Park, CO, concealing climbing routes, elk and deer herds, campsites, and an alpine lake. Get a full tour on this 10.2-mile dayhike or spend a night or two at one of the trailside campsites. From the trailhead, head up the Gem Lake Trail, winding through conifers. At mile 1.5 is Gem Lake, an alpine pool with no outlet stream, tucked under the rocky cliffs. In about a mile, turn right onto Balanced Rock Trail.

Ahead, the trail turns west and follows Cow Creek (and its namesake trail). Over the next few miles this loop passes three established campsites: Rabbit Ears (milepoint 4.2), Peregrine (milepoint 5), and Sundance (milepoint 7.8). Backcountry permits required. Turn left (south) after 6 miles and begin the loop back to the trailhead, passing through a short stretch of private property, under impressive cliffs, and long views to Longs Peak, the highest and the only 14,000-foot peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/backcntry_guide.htm

CONTACT Rocky Mountain National Park, (970) 586-1206; nps.gov/romo

-Mapped by Jeff Chow

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 16.5

Waypoints

WPT001

Location: 40.396721, -105.512741

Hike southwest from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. In 200 feet, turn right onto Gem Lake Trail to start loop.

WPT002

Location: 40.402, -105.51255

Turn right @ T-intersection. From here, begin the climb to Gem Lake on a sandy trail flanked by conifers.

WPT003

Location: 40.403801, -105.510117

Look to the south for 180-degree views across the park. Longs Peak's distinct diamond face rises in the distance.

WPT004

Location: 40.409882, -105.503998

Pass a privy with a view, then continue north toward Gem Lake.

WPT005

Location: 40.410416, -105.503715

Gem Lake: This small mountain pool (no outlet stream) is tucked at the foot of vertical rock cliffs. Watch out for the brave and hungry chipmunks that live here.

WPT006

Location: 40.418865, -105.508369

Turn right @ T-junction onto Balanced Rock Trail. Hike northeast.

WPT007

Location: 40.426998, -105.517899

Cross a narrow bridge over Cow Creek. Ahead, the trail enters a deep, open valley and gradually climbs along Cow Creek.

WPT008

Location: 40.42765, -105.52095

Turn left @ T-junction with Cow Creek Trail. Hike west.

WPT009

Location: 40.427166, -105.523918

Trail passes Rabbit Ears Campsite.

WPT010

Location: 40.42725, -105.534866

Stay left on Black Canyon Trail @ Y-junction to continue on the loop. Optional: Veer right @ Y-intersection for a 2-mile (round-trip) side trip to Bridal Falls.

WPT011

Location: 40.427517, -105.535881

Cross bridge over Cow Creek (separate trail for horses).

WPT012

Location: 40.427433, -105.537933

Pass the Peregrine Campsite.

WPT013

Location: 40.422482, -105.560799

Crest a saddle with a small clearing and head west.

WPT014

Location: 40.422268, -105.562485

Turn left @ 3-way junction, heading south. The trail that continues straight leads to Lawn Lake and Mummy Mountain.

WPT015

Location: 40.408382, -105.550697

Pass Sundance Campsite.

WPT016

Location: 40.405117, -105.543701

Walk through a gate and follow the trail across open fields with views of the valley. Note: This section travels through private property. Stay on the trail.

WPT017

Location: 40.403969, -105.540001

Continue straight @ 3-way junction with the Pear Trail.

WPT018

Location: 40.401585, -105.535286

Pass through a gate and continue hiking southeast.

WPT019

Location: 40.401531, -105.535217

Pass trail to the Book Area, a climber access.

WPT020

Location: 40.401482, -105.525032

Cross bridge and pass through gate, leaving private property.

WPT021

Location: 40.401501, -105.521034

Cross the gravel road that leads to NPS staff housing.

WPT022

Location: 40.401718, -105.520386

Turn right (southeast) @ T-junction to return to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. Ahead, pass a couple of gates and bridges.

Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary

Location: 40.4002, -105.51152

Trailside Views

Location: 40.402515, -105.510048

Boulders

Location: 40.407635, -105.50618

Rock Walls

Location: 40.408733, -105.505882

Privy Sign

Location: 40.409382, -105.504051

Gem Lake

Location: 40.410751, -105.503677

Beach at Gem Lake

Location: 40.410751, -105.503677

Gem Lake

Location: 40.410751, -105.503685

Wildflowers

Location: 40.426518, -105.514

Towering Trees

Location: 40.427601, -105.521301

Rabbit Ears Campsite

Location: 40.427383, -105.522415

Towering Cliff

Location: 40.426968, -105.52877

Peregrine Campsite

Location: 40.427399, -105.535683

Aspen Grove

Location: 40.427566, -105.538917

Longs Peak

Location: 40.416065, -105.561699

Conifer Forest

Location: 40.409168, -105.55265

Sundance Campsite

Location: 40.4091, -105.552467

Cliffs

Location: 40.408615, -105.551285

Deer

Location: 40.408184, -105.550034

Flower

Location: 40.4058, -105.545647

Private Property

Location: 40.405766, -105.545448

Grassy Meadow

Location: 40.405434, -105.54435

Meadow

Location: 40.405033, -105.543282

The Pear

Location: 40.404732, -105.541786

Trail Sign

Location: 40.402416, -105.536484

Rocky Cliffs

Location: 40.401901, -105.535751

Mountain Views

Location: 40.400566, -105.526184

Memorial

Location: 40.401482, -105.52227

Prohibited

Location: 40.397202, -105.515182

Cluster of Signs

Location: 40.4016, -105.521713